Stiles-Clark Auction to raise money for Santa to the Villages this weekend

Saturday is the 37th annual Stiles-Clark auction, hosted every year by the Coast Guard Spouses Association. The ‘20s-themed auction boasts all sorts of items from local and mainland businesses.

“We have a lot of stuff this year. It’s fabulous,” said Anne Hasenstaub, who’s chairing the event, listing work from local artists, a Seahawk Air flight, fishing charters, and tons of gift baskets among the auction items.

A Coast Guard helicopter crew greet children in Port Lions during the 2018 Santa to the Villages trip. (Photo courtesy Spouses Association of Kodiak)

Proceeds from the Stiles-Clark auction go to support the Kodiak High School Culinary Arts Programs, as well as a number of scholarships and nonprofit grants. The auction began in the 80’s as a way to support the Spouses Association’s Santa to the Villages program, an annual Christmastime tradition in which servicemembers bring toys, clothes and other gifts to children in villages around the island.

A Coast Guard Santa greets children in Akhiok during a 1993 Santa to the Villages trip. (Photo courtesy Coast Guard Spouses Association)

 

Children greet a Coast Guard Santa in 1984. (Photo courtesy Coast Guard Spouses Association)

“It started with fruit, and some books, and some small presents and knitted hats and gloves,” said KC Merrill, who’s chairing Santa to the Villages this year. “And so it has kind of just grown from there.”

Hand-knitted hats and gloves are still a staple gift, and Merrill says they get them donated from Coast Guard families around the country. “We get boxes of hundreds of knitted hats and gloves from ladies all over,” she said. “They go home to their knitting groups and their clubs and say, ‘hey, let’s do this’ and then they ship us up these knitted hats and gloves. That’s still something that every child gets.”

Flying helicopters out to Akhiok, Chiniak, Karluk, Ouzinkie and Port Lions in early December is no small undertaking, Merrill said. Preparation is year-long, and they often have to adjust their flying schedules for bad weather. It’s a big job she said, but it’s rewarding and heartwarming at the same time.

“They give as much as as much as we do. I think we really bless each other getting out there. The villages will have a lunch prepared for the whole crew and the Santa’s and elves the kids play. It’s really a magical experience.”

The auction is this Saturday evening at the Afognak Building on Near Island — Hasenstaub and Merrill said their still accepting donations for both the auction and Santa to the Villages

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